Anthony Kumpen was one of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series‘ top drivers in the mid-2010s, winning the now-EuroNASCAR PRO championship in 2014 and 2016 and ten times before a suspension for failing a drug test in 2018 abruptly placed his career on hold. Over four years later, with his ban by the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium having expired on 14 September, he is seeking a return to the driver’s seat with the NASCAR GP Belgium at Circuit Zolder on 8/9 October. While his team and number have not been revealed, he will likely race for PK Carsport, with whom he drove and now oversees as manager.
While pursuing his third NWES title midway through the 2018 season, Kumpen failed a doping test at that year’s 24 Hours of Zolder and received a four-year racing ban from the RACB. In an interview with Autosport.be, Kumpen explained a crash in the NWES weekend at Tours Speedway resulted in concussion-like symptoms that necessitated taking ADHD medication prescribed to him by a doctor, but a urine test subsequently revealed traces of amphetamines.
Kumpen did not deny the medicine’s contents but launched an appeal on grounds of the ruling being an administrative error, which ultimately failed. He told Autosport his “only mistake” had been failing to register the miedication for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), and decided against further appeals as he took responsibility for the matter.
While serving his suspension, he remained involved with PK Carsport as team manager. Under his watch, the team won the 2020 NWES title with Alon Day (who is also currently leading the PRO standings) and the 2022 24 Hours of Zolder overall.
“Now that I can race again, I want to race again, but competitively,” Kumpen told Autosport. “That’s why I’m opting for NASCAR again, especially because the next round is in Zolder, so for my own audience. I am very happy that all my sponsors are still behind me, because even the contracts for next year have already been signed.”
Kumpen has also expressed interest in returning to the United States to race in its NASCAR divisions. He made six starts in the Xfinity Series from 2015 to 2017 with a best finish of fifteenth at Mid-Ohio in 2017, and also ran two races in what is now the ARCA Menards Series East in 2015. He had also been in talks about entering the Cup Series prior to his suspension.
“I am really eager to measure myself again with competitors,” he continued. “I will have four years off their time, but I have not been sitting still for four years. I am physically sharper than ever before. It remains to be seen whether the age will impact me, but I will go for it in any case. Earlier this year at Zolder, my pace was all right, I clocked just below last year’s pole time. That fueled the fire even more, to be honest.
“Am I saying that I will outrun everything and everyone? Absolutely not, but I only want to race if I still have the raw pace in me and I think I can still fight for the win in Zolder at the moment.”
Kumpen won at Zolder in 2016.